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John Pigeon Becomes Massachusetts Commissary

As I wrote yesterday, in 1768 the Boston merchant and insurance broker John Pigeon retired to a farm estate in Newton. But in 1773, as he neared his fiftieth birthday, he became politically active in his new town. The next fall he was...Show More Summary

John Pigeon Retires to the Country

John Pigeon (1725-1800) was a prominent Boston merchant specializing in dry goods, meaning cloth and clothing.Pigeon married Jane Dumaresq, from a wealthy Huguenot family, in 1752. He was an Anglican, a warden of Christ Church in the North End. Show More Summary

“The Road to Revolution in Newton,” 11 July

On Tuesday, 11 July, I’ll speak at the Newton Free Library on the topic “The Road to Revolution in Newton.”This will be another talk based on The Road to Concord with a local twist:In September 1774 the farmers of Middlesex County rose up and ended royal government in most of Massachusetts. Show More Summary

EXTRA: Would You Give an Arm and a Leg for These Amputation Kits?

RR Auction is offering the amputation kits that Dr. John Warren used in the Revolutionary War. Bidding ends on 12 July, with the last online bid at 6:00 P.M. and the final bids handled by phone after that. According to the company’sShow More Summary

“The colonies submit to pay all external taxes”

On 11 Apr 1767, a letter signed “Benevolus” appeared in the London Chronicle. It was reprinted in two other London newspapers within the week.The Pennsylvania Chronicle, the influential newspaper still co-owned by Benjamin Franklin, ran the letter on 8 June, and Boston newspapers carried it by the end of that month. Show More Summary

A New Approach to “American Affairs” in 1767

On 6 July 1767, 250 years ago today, the Boston Post-Boy printed important news from London. A letter dated 11 May described the new policy of Britain’s finance minister, Charles Townshend:A few Days before the House of Commons adjourned for the Easter Holidays, the Ch[ancello]r of the Ex[cheque]r opened his budget, with very great Applause, even Mr. Show More Summary

American Civil War Exceptionalism

There are so many things wrong with this photograph that I don’t know where to start. It sums up perfectly how Americans continue to commemorate and think about their civil […]

Gen. Washington at His Headquarters in Cambridge, 8 July

On Saturday, 8 July, John Koopman will once again portray Gen. George Washington at his Cambridge headquarters, now the Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site.That date is the anniversary of when the Massachusetts...Show More Summary

The Declaration as Historiography

Inspired by the Course of Human Events blog’s “Fresh Takes” project, I’ve been thinking about the Declaration of Independence as a historiographical text. It presents a philosophy of history, describes historical events, and bases its...Show More Summary

”What is necessary to be done relative to a Colony Seal”

As I described yesterday, in October 1775 Gen. Thomas Gage discovered that the royal seal of Massachusetts had disappeared from the Council Chamber in what’s now the Old State House.Naturally, we might assume that Patriots had stolen it. Show More Summary

Can Historians Disentangle Reality From Myth on Twitter?

Jason Steinhauer thinks so. In a brief op-ed published at CNN Steinhauer calls on academic historians to take up arms behind their keyboards and “interject their expertise into contested exchanges […]

“All the Seals have been taken out of the Council Chamber”

Hace you seen the last royal seal of Massachusetts?At left is a picture of the impression the seal made. It shows the royal arms of Great Britain, with the lion and unicorn fighting for a crown, within a motto denoting the reign of George...Show More Summary

Jefferson Davis’s Final Campaign: Preliminary Thoughts

For obvious reasons I’ve been looking forward to reading Philip Dillard’s new book, Jefferson Davis’s Final Campaign: Confederate Nationalism and the Fight to Arm Slaves (Mercer University Press, 2017). I […]

New to the Civil War Memory Library, 06/29

Update: My first book, Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder was recently released in paperback. You can order it directly from the publisher with a 30% discount […]

A Common-place Sampling

The online history magazine Common-place just released a new issue featuring thirteen essays by young scholars on thirteen varied texts from or about early America. Each short essay is accompanied by a link, so it functions as an introduction to that work. Show More Summary

Questions Raised by Lunenburg’s Cannon

Yesterday’s posting, thanks to Eileen O’Brien, quoted from the town records of Lunenburg as its citizens voted to mount a nine-pounder cannon and then offer it to the provincial army.Of course, the town didn’t make that offer until after 13 June 1775, almost two months after the war began. Show More Summary

A Cannon in Lunenburg

Eileen O’Brien kindly shared the following extracts from the records of the Lunenburg town meeting. They add Lunenburg to the list of Massachusetts towns which in the months before the Revolutionary War officially began were discussing how to arm themselves with artillery—the focus of my book, The Road to Concord. Show More Summary

Upcoming Boston By Foot Tours

Boston By Foot offers three walking tours this coming weekend focused on heroes of Boston’s Revolution—most of whom are even non-fictional. Here are the descriptions.Sunday, 2 July, 10:00-11:30 A.M.Johnny Tremain’s BostonRelive the adventures...Show More Summary

The Birth of “Brown Bess”

Last month the Royal Armouries blog posted curator Johnathan Ferguson’s detailed article about the term “Brown Bess” as slang for a British infantryman’s musket. The article cited three appearances of the term before its first entry in a slang dictionary. Show More Summary

Hannah Snell and the Press Gang

Hannah Snell (1723-1792) was a native of Worcester in England. In 1747, her husband having deserted her and their child having died in infancy, she borrowed a brother-in-law’s clothes and name and enlisted in the British marines.Over the next three years Snell participated in an abortive expedition to Mauritius and then a long campaign in India. Show More Summary

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